Reinventing The Obituary

People are wondering what impact Baby Boomers will have on DeathCare. I believe one trend you as a practitioner can get ahead of is the reinvention of the Obituary.  These two examples appeared in the Winston – Salem Journal on the same day. You will have to click on John Litcher to read his.

John Hannibal Litcher

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  1. As usual, Alan, another great thought-provoking post from the resident iconoclast. Research study after research study confirms that the obituary section of a funeral home’s website has the most traffic. A smart business person would seize the opportunity this presents and make sure this was a competitive advantage in their local market.

  2. Howard Beckham says:

    I sat down at 2:00 am in our bedroom at home after leaving the hospital where they took my dad the evening he died with my lap top and poured out my soul to write my father’s obituary. Dad has always been my hero. There never seemed to be anything he did not know about or could not do when he wanted to do. I recounted a bit of interesting facts and events from every era of his life for the past 87 years. The next day when we went to the funeral home to make the arrangements for the service (our funeral home did the removal, embalmed, dressed, and casketed him, but since where I work is 50 miles from my parents home the service was held at another funeral home close to where he lived) and my mother found out what the obituary I wrote was going to cost (and I did offer to pay for it) she cut it down significantly to just the bare basic information.

    It is a real shame that the obits in many papers cost so much today. I understand they need to make money too, but the cost seem to discourage too many people.

    To many, the obituary is someone’s last chance to do a shout out, to say their piece, and to put their mark on the wall.

    These obituaries exhibit excellent examples of creative writing far beyond the norm and are excellent vignettes and insights about the writers life and opinions. I dare say the average Joe does not have the skills to write such obituaries.

    When discussing the obituary with a family many ask for a “template” so that they can just fill in the blanks or look at other (typical) obituary patterns to follow. No creativity with that.

    Over the years I have had a few families write some creative things, one even included a gentleman’s favorite limerick that the newspaper refused to print.

    The funeral home’s web page can be an excellent vehicle to use for longer more creative obituaries especially if the family funds are limited. Offering to do a longer and more extensive obituary to be published at no additional charge on your web page can help a family see added value that your services can deliver and many families who take me up on the offer to run a longer obituary on line seem very grateful.

    I am considering printing out these two examples to hand to someone the next time they as me for a obituary template just to see what they send back to me.

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